James, P. D. Talking about Detective Fiction.

NY: Knopf, 2009.

Though I read voraciously growing up (and not just YA novels and science fiction, either), I never cracked a mystery or detective story (except for Conan Doyle, who is unique) until I took a class in “genre fiction” in library school. That experience left me with an intense dislike for Agatha Christie and her ilk. (more…)

Published in: on 29 June 2010 at 3:31 am  Leave a Comment  

Wambaugh, Joseph. Finnegan’s Week.

NY: Morrow, 1993.

Fin Finnegan is a property crimes detective in the southern end of San Diego, raised mostly by three older sisters (who always made him do things for his own good), just turned forty-five (over the hill), married and divorced three times (an unfortunate habit), fan of Ross Perot in the forthcoming election (hard to remember why anyone would be, now), of rather small stature (which women think is cute), squeamish about autopsies (which is why he works property crimes), and becoming a bit tired of being a cop. (more…)

Published in: on 27 June 2010 at 6:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Wambaugh, Joseph. The Golden Orange.

NY: Morrow, 1990.

People who sneeringly refer to California as the “Left Coast” obviously know nothing about Orange County, which is home to a large enough population of conservative wingnuts to offset the whole rest of the state. Unfortunately (for everyone but the Mercedes dealers), the John-Wayne-worshipers also have Newport Beach, one of the nicer stretches of sand in Southern California.


Published in: on 24 June 2010 at 5:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Harrison, Kim. Black Magic Sanction.

NY: HarperCollins, 2010.

First off, don’t even think of trying to start this series anywhere but with the first volume. Each installment, including this eighth one, picks up roughly where the previous book left off, and with very little explanation of the extremely complex continuing plot or identification of what has become a near-huge cast of supporting characters. In the earlier books, Cincinnati native and earth-witch Rachel Morgan was basically just a “runner” — sort of a cross between private eye and bounty hunter.


Published in: on 22 June 2010 at 5:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Pope, Dudley. Governor Ramage, R.N.

NY: Simon & Schuster, 1973.

Lieut. Lord Nicholas Ramage, commander of the Triton brig, has had an adventurous career: Rescuing damsels in distress in Italy, espionage in the Med, putting privateers out of business in the Caribbean, it’s just one thing after another. Now he’s at Barbados, joining the escort of a convoy to Jamaica — which is also carrying Rear Admiral Goddard, implacable enemy of his father (the admiral, who is also an earl) and therefore of Nicholas himself.


Published in: on 20 June 2010 at 6:30 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Connelly, Michael. Nine Dragons.

NY: Little, Brown, 2009.

This is the fifteen novel in just under twenty years featuring LAPD homicide detective Harry Bosch, and while the series has suffered somewhat recently, this one isn’t too bad — except for when it becomes far-fetched. Harry, who spent years at the Hollywood Division homicide desk, then retired for three years, then came back to the cold case squad, has now spent several years as part of the Homicide Special squad — the elite of the elite.


Published in: on 16 June 2010 at 2:12 am  Leave a Comment  
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Connelly, Michael. The Closers.

NY: Little, Brown, 2005.

LAPD homicide detective Harry Bosch, a little older and a little grayer, retired three years ago, but discovered he really couldn’t live without the badge and the gun (it was making him walk lopsided), so he’s back on the job, now in the Open-Unsolved unit dealing with cold cases, where the investigative work is almost purely intellectual.


Published in: on 14 June 2010 at 4:12 am  Leave a Comment  
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Todd, Malcolm. The Early Germans.

(The Peoples of Europe) Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1992.

The growing number of volumes in the “Peoples of Europe” series are generally quite useful to students of early medieval history; at less than 300 pages, they do well as surveys. This one, unfortunately, is one of the less readable efforts. Todd is interested in the Germanic tribes and their migrations from the early Roman Empire up to about 700 A.D.,


Published in: on 10 June 2010 at 6:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

Kaufmann, J. E. & H. W. Kaufmann. The Medieval Fortress: Castles, Forts and Walled Cities of the Middle Ages.

Conshohocken, PA: Combined Publishing, 2001.

This heavily illustrated volume should appeal to students of military history and medieval history generally, and also to wargamers and interested tourists. It opens with a general history of fortifications (mostly but not entirely in Western Europe) from late antiquity to the decline of the high-walled defensive wall with the advent of cannon, discussing every aspect of castle and fortress design in all their variations, and with detailed plans and line drawings on almost every page, as well as black-and-white photos (no color) of representative surviving examples.


Published in: on 9 June 2010 at 3:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Pope, Dudley. The Triton Brig.

Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1969.

This is the third in the series about Lieut. Lord Nicholas Ramage, now commanding a brig in 1798, and the action seldom abates. First, in order to take command, he has to convince its mutinous crew to leave Spithead — which he does in typical Ramage fashion, by presenting them with a situation that catches them all off-guard.


Published in: on 5 June 2010 at 4:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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